Posts Tagged "basics"

Free and Low-Cost Web Design Options

Strapped for cash? You’re not alone. In fact, a low budget is the most universally familiar obstacle to small business owners. There are many ways to safely cut costs when setting up your web space, and finding less-costly web design options falls into this category. Here, we’ll take a look at the best ways to approach low-cost web design while maintaining a polished, professional appearance.

Free Options

There are two main free options available to you—an unpaid worker and a ready-made design built into a web space package you’re already purchasing. As with any budget option, there are disadvantages and advantages to both options.

Going with a ready-made design for your web space is a reliable option. Keep in mind, however, that a creativity-based business can suffer from an obviously-stock template. If, for example, you are a painter selling canvases online, customers will be a bit confused by a standard, boring web space design. Thankfully, there are many excellent bundled designs to be found via our top hosting picks. These designs are included in your purchase price, but still offer customizable and exciting visual options.

Your next free option is to find a skilled designer who’s just starting out. They are rather easy to find if you look in the right places—college campuses are a great place to begin. Place ads on the bulletin boards—real-world and online—of some local colleges and universities. You’ll probably receive more than a few offers, which gives you a nice selection. Just be sure to check the work over very carefully before it ‘goes live’ on your web space. Taking advantage of a fellow start-up is never good business, so be sure to use the barter system—offer a gift card, discount code or even profit-sharing potential in exchange for services.

Low-Cost Options

The most readily available low-cost web space design options are, essentially, enhanced versions of free options. You can find a great deal of customizable, yet ready-made, web space designs available through many different platforms. Many of these options can be customized to the point that they are unrecognizable as ready-made designs, lending your site that all-important air of creativity.

Another low-cost option involves seeking out a talented, yet undiscovered, individual or company. These individuals are in the same boat as you—just getting started. Services can often be obtained at a significantly reduced cost, or through bartering. Just be careful to pay fairly; after all, your business is worth a reasonable investment.

For a world of attractive, professional-looking templates which don’t require an IT degree to set up, visit sites such as ThemeForest. Even those brand-new to the world of web design can customize beautiful designs with just a few clicks!

Safety Comes First

Glitches can occur when utilizing the services of a less-than-professional individual or company. However, there’s no reason to get paranoid.

In order to keep costs down and stay sane, have your web space checked over by an internet safety professional before it goes live. This can usually be done at a very reasonable cost, and very quickly. This is a step best left to professionals backed by a well-regarded company. The money you spend is an investment in your and your customers’ safety—well worth every penny.

The Bottom Line

With so many low- and no-cost options out there, finding the right one for you should be an easy task. However, keep in mind that a professionally designed web space is your ultimate goal. These sites are easy to spot, and they immediately foster a sense of consumer trust. They cost more but, ultimately, that cost is neutralized by increased traffic and sales. Check out our best budget-friendly picks and start building your best site right away!

Top 5 Web Space Mistakes

For those who aren’t already well-versed in running their websites, the web hosting market can seem complicated. It’s actually very easy to avoid making the biggest mistakes when looking for web space. Here are five of those, and what you should be doing instead.

1. Placing too much importance on a single aspect.

Yes, your site may very well require a lot of large video and audio files, and that would make having a good amount of disk space available very important to you. But it’s still not the only thing that matters. Good web space needs to have a variety of different things acting in tandem; you will regret it if you pick an otherwise substandard option because of one particularly attractive bullet point. Look for a provider that boasts an attractive feature set all around, not just in the one respect that you care most about.

2. Undervaluing tech support

Things generally do not go perfectly. Your web space should always come with solid tech support as a hedge against that. If possible, that should include live support via chat or telephone; however, even if those aren’t doable within your price range, a good ticket system and a sizable knowledge base are essentials. If the tech support isn’t up to par, then you want to look elsewhere, period.

3. Taking the host’s word for things

The job of a web host’s website is to convince you to give them your custom. They’re going to accentuate the things that they have going for them, and they’re going to downplay the things that they don’t. Once you’ve found an option that looks good, look up more information elsewhere. User reviews are ideal here. See what people who’ve already taken the plunge have to say about the quality of their service. The last thing you want is to be roped into using a substandard hosting provider because of the marketing. If you need to find a good web host fast, click here to see the web hosts we recommend.

4. Paying too far in advance

Yes, most paid web space is cheaper if you pay for it for years at a time—or more, for that matter. But doing so also locks you into them for the intervening time period; this is a big commitment, and it’s one that you should only really make when you’re confident that you won’t regret it. To start out, consider paying only for a few months; that way, if you decide that things aren’t working for you, it’s no hassle for you to move. Once you’re confident in your selection, then by all means go for the best bargain available—but don’t make big purchases prematurely.

5. Using over-specialized hosts that run single software packages

If you just intend to run a blog, a forum, or some other common piece of software, it may seem odd to go to the trouble of using general-purpose web space to set those up when you could just pick one of the many hosts that will run the same software for you, often free of charge. Dodging the hassle of managing your own software is attractive, but it’s still not worth it. You have very little control over “your” site with such a host; they choose when things are updated. They choose which plugins and themes you have access to. They choose which ads you run, and make all of the profit from those. You save a little work in the short term, but you’re going to make things much harder in the long run.

How Much Web Space Do You Need?

For the average layman who just wants to get his web pages hosted, it can be confusing to have so many web hosting packages to choose from. Just about all of them offer a competitive range of packages based on at least two areas—web space disk size and bandwidth. Prices for similar packages differ from one hosting company to the next. You could end up with a package that is short of your needs for a very attractive price offer.

Determining your disk space needs

Text in a web page eats the least amount of file size, so that even an all-text 100-page site may require no more than 5MB of web space storage. It’s the multimedia content that creates large file sizes.

Photos can go up to hundreds of MB each if you make high-resolution images available for download.

Sound files in MP3 format also take up space so that a 3-minute pop tune can easily require 7 MB at the format’s highest audio bit rate of 320 kilobytes per second.

Video files require a large amount of disk space. A 30-second video could eat up 25 MB of web space depending on the format and video resolution. Some site owners simply embed videos from a separate provider such as YouTube to save on their own hosting costs.

Estimating your bandwidth needs

Each website is unique, and estimating your minimum bandwidth or data transfer usage will depend on several elements. A rough formula to follow is:

[average file size of your web pages] * [number of visitors you expect each day] * [number of pages each visitor will view] * [30 days in a month] = total monthly bandwidth or data transfer usage

For instance, if you have 20 web pages each averaging 10 KB of text with around 100 KB of images per page and a best estimate of around 100 visitors on average per day who would view around 5 pages, using the formula above, you can compute: [10 KB + 100 KB per web page] * [100 visitors] * [5 pages per visitor] * [30 days in a month] = 1,650,000 KB, 1,600 MB, or 1.65 GB per month. You need to find a hosting package that a monthly 1.65 GB can safely fall into. Hosting packages with 2 to 5 GB of bandwidth per month would be just right with some room for a near-term expansion in traffic.

Weighing your options

Personal websites with a few pages of text and images can often be satisfied with free hosting topped at 2 GB of bandwidth and around 100 MB to 150 MB of disk space allocated for you each month. Just be aware that your site could be littered with ads that can annoy your site visitors, and problems in your hosting may not be met with good technical support that a paid hosting company can provide.

For business usage, it’s best for you to look into professional web hosting providers. They usually start with 5 GB monthly bandwidth and 200 MB of web space from $3 per month, with significant savings if you sign up for long-term hosting. In most cases, a startup or small business website can benefit from the minimum paid hosting packages if it rarely uses more than 1 GB of data transfer per month, at least in the early months. Even if you sign up for a year’s service. professional web hosts won’t mind if you step up to a higher package should the growth in your traffic and website sophistication warrant a higher bandwidth and web space.

However, there’s a better alternative. Because disk space and broadband telecommunications have both gone down in cost, unlimited disk space and bandwidth are now commonly offered in many hosting solutions priced above $3 per month.

For a growing business, it makes good sense to avail of these unlimited offers. This allows you to grow your business without worrying about whether or not your web host can support you. It also helps you in case of large spikes of traffic. You don’t want your website to be down just when a lot of visitors are coming in.

At the end of the day, it’s always better to get as much as you can for your money’s worth. There are plenty of affordable web hosts that offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, so this is definitely recommended.

Top 5 Web Space Myths

Finding a perfect web space provider can be a difficult task, especially with the number of options available on the market. Everyone wants fast servers with perfect uptime, plenty of disk space, and lots of bandwidth. A free domain thrown in would be nice to have, and all this must either come free or at a very low price. While these requirements seem ideal, there are a few common misconceptions about each of these specifications.

Myth 1: Website uptime of 100% is possible.

Many web hosts advertise a server uptime of 99.9% or more—but never 100%. This is because the server needs to be maintained regularly in order for it to run smoothly the rest of the time.

Also note that even if the server is running, the website won’t be accessible if the network is down at the data center. A 99.9% server uptime doesn’t guarantee a corresponding website uptime.

Myth 2: Unlimited disk space and bandwidth are a must.

Many people feel that and unlimited disk space and bandwidth are an absolute must for a website to meet future growth needs.

First of all, web space and bandwidth are finite. There is a limit. However, most websites will never come anywhere close to this limit.

Second, unlimited disk space and bandwidth doesn’t mean you can have a bandwidth-intensive website on a shared server. This will adversely affect the performance of the server and other websites hosted on that network. Web hosts are quick to detect such disproportionate resource usage and will ask you to upgrade to a higher package or take the site elsewhere.

The reality is that site performance is likely to be better on a shared server, which has restrictions on web space and bandwidth, since the web host discourages users with resource-intensive websites from hosting there in the first place. Most new sites won’t need a lot of disk space and won’t have enough traffic to really need high bandwidth. If the traffic increases, it’s only a happy problem to have, in which case it would be possible to upgrade.

Myth 3: You can get a free domain for life.

Many people think that an offer for a free domain for life means that the web hosting company will keep renewing it every year, no matter what.

Remember that the free domain is part of the web hosting package—and it will be renewed only if you continue to be their customer on a hosting package that includes a free domain.

Myth 4: All web hosts are suitable for all websites.

Some people are under the impression that once they purchase a web hosting package, they can use it in any way they want.

Most web hosts, even the paid ones, have restrictions on what kind of sites you can host. Some web hosts don’t allow streaming media, file storage services, or adult content.

Myth 5: The fine print is unimportant.

Most people don’t read the fine print before they sign up for free or paid web hosting. But it’s important to see what you’re signing up for. This is especially true if it’s a low-cost or free web host. There could be possible file type restrictions, maximum file sizes, email sending limits, and others. These technical aspects may be crucial to the functioning of your website.

The ideal web host isn’t necessarily the one that offers the most disk space and bandwidth. It’s also important to check whether your website can be hosted comfortably within the resource limits and technical platform. We’ve found that these recommended web hosts have all the features that a typical website needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Web Space

If you’re thinking about ways to generate more sales and leads for your business, then maybe it’s time to go online. The vast majority of businesses have their own website now because customers want to shop from the comfort of their own home, or even from their smartphone or tablet.

If this is all new to you, then here are eight frequently asked questions about getting started with your own web space.

1. What is web space?

There are many different web hosting companies that provide space to upload a website for an annual or monthly fee. You can create your own website in your own space, store files there, and if you ever want to move to a different provider, you just take your files and move them.

2. How much do I need?

It depends on the number of web pages and files you will be uploading. If your website is just a simple blog with a few pages then you won’t need very much. However, if you will be hosting full-color catalogues of hundreds of products, or making lots of videos or audio files available for customers to download, then you’ll need more space.

3. Should I get free or paid web hosting?

You can get free web hosting with some providers, but many of these insist that you allow them to advertise on your website. They might also have restrictions on the type of website you can install and the number of visitors you can have each month. Free services like this can also be a lot less reliable so you run the risk of your website being down which could be bad for business.

By paying for web space, you eliminate all those negative points. You will get much better and more reliable service with full technical support and in most cases a guarantee of almost 100% uptime.

4. Do I need PHP/MySQL?

PHP is the programming code that many website platforms such as WordPress and Joomla use. It’s quite common for these platforms to require a database to store things like customer details, product information, and so on. MySQL is the most popular database system available today and integrates perfectly with PHP.

If you know how to write your own PHP code, you can create some amazing applications for your own website, or you can buy off-the-shelf packages. The vast majority of web hosting companies offer PHP and MySQL as standard, but some plans will limit the number of databases you can have.

5. Do I need my own domain?

If you’re running your own business, you need your own domain. Your domain name doesn’t have to include your business name, but it might describe your product or the services you offer. It could also include your geographic location.

For example, if you run a pet grooming salon in New York called Woof Woof Beauties, you might register the domain newyorkpetgrooming.com rather than woofwoofbeauties.com. Do some keyword research before deciding on a domain name. When people come to search for a product or service, keywords in a domain can certainly help your website rank higher.

6. Where can I buy a domain?

There are many companies that sell domains and the prices they charge can vary a lot, so it’s really worth taking some time to shop around. Some web hosting providers, such as Just Host, offer free domain registration with their web hosting packages—this is a good deal if you’re looking to save money.

When you buy a domain name, you have the option to get one or more TLD’s (top level domains) for the same name. For example, in addition to buying newyorkpetgrooming.com, you might also buy newyorkpetgrooming.net, newyorkpetgrooming.org, and so on. It’s sometimes a good idea to do this because it stops competitors from setting up a site to try and steal your business. If you buy multiple TLD’s like this, you simply redirect the other domains to your main domain.

7. How do I create a website?

Creating a website in your own web space can be as easy as clicking a button these days. Some web host providers come bundled with Fantastico, a system which allows you to easily install web software. With this tool, you could install something like WordPress blog within a few seconds and your website could be up and running in no time at all. Check out these web hosts which come bundled with Fantastico.

If you want something more unique and custom-made for your business, you can always pay a website designer to create something tailored just for you.

8. How do I upload my website?

They are a few ways to upload files to your web space. Most web hosting companies will offer you an upload facility where you simply browse to the files on your computer, select them, then upload them to your site.

Alternatively, you can use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program. One of the best free FTP programs is FileZilla, which allows you to drag and drop files from your computer directly into your website.